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this is according to the white house. he's going to be focusing though on the debt ceiling. that will be his opening statement. now, the president has made repeated calls for congress to raise the limit without strings attached. we'll see how it goes. also likely to be mentioned in today's presidential news conference is the administration's push for gun control. today marked one month since the deadly shooting in newtown, connecticut. but vice president joe biden is expected to deliver his recommendations to the president tomorrow is holding one last meeting today with a dozen house democrats. as the gun control discussion takes center stage on capitol hill, the white house is already saying it will put its full force behind those proposals including what could be the toughest fight, the call to revibe the assault weapons ban. >> assault weapon ban is a tough one because it's hard to define what assault weapon is. and if we're just defining it by what it looks like, that doesn't do much for me. >> you think you have enough on
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capitol hill to keep an assault weapons ban from passing. >> i think right now we do. when the president takes all the powers off, willing to expend political capital, you don't want to make predictions -- you don't want to bet your house on the outcome. but i would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this congress. >> instead of dividing ourselves as a country along partisan lines let's come back to what is most pragmatic, what will keep people safe in america. >> all right. so let's dig right in. joining me now we have joining me msnbc's reverend al sharpton, ed shultz and peter alexander. peter, i want to start with you because we have heard that the president will be leading off the press conference focusing on the debt ceiling. what more do we know about how long that opening statement is going to be? >> we only know it's going to be some brief remarks from the president to kick off this news
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conference that will be notedly, thomas, the last news conference of his first term as president. but it's notable because it's the very same topic that you can expect he had to focus on the last couple of years he will focused on the next zell several months or years as he continues to battle with congress in terms of fiscal issues and the debt ceiling. just a matter of minutes ago actually dan pfeiffer, one of the top aides to the t president put out a note that politico breaux this morning where they said that house republicans were considering, among other things, default or possibly a government shutdown. some of the dramatic steps that the republicans of the house are considering. pfeiffer referred to that specifically today saying just another reason -- just one more way that house republicans could make themselves even less popular than they already are right now. we have a pretty good sense of what we're going to hear the president say when it comes to the debt ceiling and fiscal issues. jay carney sort of telegraphed these statements during the briefings last week, the last one was on wednesday where he
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said, and i pulled up the notes to get it right. he said there are only two options to deal with the debt limit. congress can pay its bill or fail to act and put the nation into default. the line in the sand was clearly drawn during those news conferences with the press secretary jay carney last week. and the president is going to draw his own line when he makes those opening remark just a short time from now. >> is the president going to speak first about the debt ceiling, and do we expect any written remarks about what the vice president has been doing because there is that self-imposed tuesday deadline tomorrow about the gun control debate and what the gun task force, the proposals, that is, what will be put forth by the vice president. >> it's a good question and it will certainly be questions from reporters gathered in the east room about the issue of gun control and what the president is considering as well as what the vice president has heard as a part of this gun violence task force. remember, it's pebted that the formal recommendations from that task force will come to the president's desk tomorrow. and conversations i had with the
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senior administration official yesterday on what is really one of the big sticking points right now, the question of whether or not the president will, in fact, be able to get, succeed in getting a reinstatement of the assault weapon s ban, despite some of the things we're hearing we are not in any way polling back on this issue but they do recognize the challenge that they face on that front given the fact that joe manchin and others is an "a" rated by the nra, democrat from west virginia. couple weeks ago immediately after newtown, he was quite open. he said everything should be on the table and in some of the things that we've heard him say over the last 24 to 48 hours where he said the idea of an assault weapons ban alone is just not going to stand. it needs to be something comprehensive. appears clear that there is a lot of challenge to that ban being reinstated in congress. >> peter, we're going the ask you to stand by. i'm going to go to the reverend al sharpton, el shultz here in studio with me. gentlemen, i want to show
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everybody the front page of politico, double trouble, house gop eyes default, and shutdown. ed, as we just heard peter talking about there, the language being used by republicans in washington, d.c. right now. it will be interesting to hear how the president comes out. is this his first volley at getting to sell this to the american people? >> well, i think it's important that the president come out and set the tone of what the parameters are. i thought he was giving great latitude and support this weekend by harry reid and other democrats who came out and said do what you have to do to protect the economy. i personally believe the presidents that responsibility to protect the economy. and he can't mess around with these republicans who are threatening not to pay the bills of the country. we're not talking about spending. we're talking about paying bills that -- money that has already been spent that we're obligated to pay. there would be a ripple effect globally that would be insurmountable if we don't go down the road of paying the bills. i think the president has to draw the line there and be strong. he's got the people with him. that's the other thing. i think it's important that we focus on that. >> certainly political capital
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spent from getting re-elected to a second term. gregory, i want to show everybody the letter that ed mentioned that was sent to president obama on friday. in part saying, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that america does not blake its promises and trigger a global economic crisis. without congressional approval, if necessary. basically recommending the 14th amendment. >> i think two important points here. one, we must emphasize, we're not talking spending here. this is not the regular gop line about cutting spending. we're talking about paying bills that have already -- we've already occurred here. i think for them to play games like this on playing bills is a total height of irresponsibility. secondly, the ramifications of it. i think what the president should do today is not only reaffirm the line in the sand, jay carney and others have set, and the president said he's not negotiating on this, but also say to the public, what this
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will mean in terms of our global standing, what would be the ramifications of it. i think if he does that, it puts them exactly where the ball is in their court, if that's what they want to try and do. >> this next verse same as the first? because we've already been through this before. they are willing, that is the right willing to push the country to default, at least to the point where we've had our credit downgraded before? >> this is the card that the president has in his corner, in my opinion. he has given in to boehner in the past in the summer of 2011. that didn't work very well. the republicans didn't come to the table and play as honest brokers since then. so now this is a new congress, this is a new direction, and this is something that the president has a lot of political capital and he doesn't have to worry about re-election. i don't mean that to be a shot at the president, i'm just saying it's a political reality here that he has a lot of latitude here to push forward. the big question, i think, today in this press conference is going to be the filibuster. i mean, if we don't change the rules of the senate you're not going to get anything done on gun legislation, you're not
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going to get to be able to identify any of these tax loopholes that we're talking about getting new revenue into the treasury. the first order of business to me, anyway, mr. president, how strong are you on the filibuster? you've stated before that you're in favor of it but he has got to come out and focus the country on how dysfunctional the senate has been. we can't live through 380 filibusters again and we've got to move forward. the only way to do that is to turn to the most politically important man in the country right now and that's harry reid. harry reese got to make the move. >> debt ceiling is date specific, as i mentioned, to peter about gun control, whether or not that's going to come up and where in the press conference that's going to come up as vice president gets ready to put forward the proposals that his gun task force has been drafting over the last several days. one thing is our nbc points out today about whether or not the appetite is lessening for this. they say, you also get the sense that the air is leaking ever so slightly out of this balloon
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that is called gun control as those advocating new government regulations start accepting the political realities on capitol hill. do you think the appetite is wayning to see something done and, today, let's remind everybody. today is the one-month anniversary of the shoot that happened at sandy hook elementary in newtown. >> i think some of the attention may be waening. but when you look across the country we've had how many shootings in the last month since sandy hook? when you look at in many cities like chicago, philadelphia, other places, this is a constant. i don't think the appetite has gone from the general public. so let's not confuse media appetite with public appetite. but i think that the fact that the vice president will make his recommendations tomorrow, which ironically is the actual birthday of martin luther king jr. i think that it would be probably raised in today's press conference but i don't know how much of substantive answer the president would be willing to
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give until he has the recommendations because he probably would not want to pre-empt whatever recommendations the vice president is going to make. but i think a lot of this depends on ed's point, is what kind of senate are we going to make any of these proposals? because to make recommendations out of the context of how the gop is going to play this in the senate and later in the house is really are we talking about just talking into an echo chamber? i think we've got to deal with the rules of the senate to even have the proper debate and vote on gun legislation. >> certainly the people in and around newtown, the community there so devastate bid what happened on sandy hook, they don't want the national appetite to wane on this. sandy hook promise, non-profit organization that's been developed to remember those that have been lost and to see something happen legislatively. they're meeting today in remembrance of the victims lost last month. let's listen? >> we know that there's no one simple fix.
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we need holistic solutions. there are steps government can take. there are laws congress can pass. however, to accomplish meaningful change, we must also look to ourselves. passing a new law and then moving on is not the answer. we have to fundamentally change our approach. it's not just what government should do. it's what i should do. it's what you should do. and it's what we should do together. as americans we value responsibility, community, and innovation. only if we put our values, these values to work can we truly make our communities safe from this kind of violence. our country has been stuck in a rut. we've all seen it. we talk past each other. we repeat predictable rhetoric. we get hardened in our positions. we feel threatened, and we don't
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listen. sandy hook promise will promote a national discussion, open minded dialogue, we want to do this around the dinner table and in homes, we want to do this in our communities, we want to do this in our places of wor slip, we want to do this among our elected representatives. >> we're watching sandy hook promise there. and the group itself marking the one-month anniversary of the lost, sandy hook elementary school shooting in newtown. really interesting there to hear them say that there's not one simple fix and as the vice president has been putting together the task force, talking with the families, those that lost a loved one there, other victims of gun violence. we have the nra being invited to the white house. we had those with the video game lobby invited to the white house. ed, there seems there's all this finger pointing going the other way and not a collective, okay, we accept our responsibility and our part in this, what can we do to help you? >> this is all of the arena of the second amendment being one heavy political tool on all of
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these lawmakers. i'm tired of hearing lawmakers tell me what can pass and what won't pass. let's listen to the american people for a moment and stop rendering judgment on what's going to have the votes and what's not. the fact is the american position are positioned. we're going to find out within the next few weeks whether sandy hook was the 9/11 of gun violence in this country. the fact is we have got lawmakers who are saying, hey, i own firearms, i hunt. now that we've gotten everybody's resume off the table, let's look at some serious measures of what we can do and stop telling the american people what's going to pass. it's like they're covering themselves, protecting themselves in the next election cycle so they don't get attacked by the radicals that they are anti-gun in the second amendment is their best friend in their back pocket. look, here's what we have to do. if we're going to do background checks, what kind? you cross the border from this country to canada or you come back in, there's all kinds of level of background checks. how intense are they going to be? this is where you're going to have to coordinate the mental health aspect, how deep into
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somebody's background are you going to go, close the gun show loophole and make sure every sell in this country is accounted for. that would be a good step without going down the road of assault weapons. >> deciding first what guns under the second amendment as an american citizen we are allowed to buy. before we get to any of the background checks and any of that, shouldn't we establish, okay, this is being manufactured in this country and can be sold to you legally. >> right now, you can go on the internet right now and get it for $25. >> until we decide what falls under a military style weapon, assault style weapon, doesn't that where we need to decide -- what we need to decide is let's start with what the last ban on assault weapons. and go for it. we have a foundation of where we define assault weapons in the last ban. we can start there and then go and deal with all of those types of weapons that have been manufactured since then. but i think that it is a real telling thing when we can sit and say and have a reasonable
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certainty that are we saying to the world that if you watch 26 people killed, 20 miniature caskets, that we're only capable of remembering it for a month? is that what we're really saying that america is about now? that after 30 days, we move on to something else? is that what the congress is going to tell the world about this country? i think that if we are, then we are building an image that is so insensitive to the world that we can't preach american exceptionalism and at the same time say but we only have a month we can grieve for 20 babies to be buried. we must do something in reaction to this. we must deal with this. and i think it is not whether this is the 9/11, we must make it that. and i think there must be courage. the vice president has met with the groups you said. he's met with civil rights groups. he's met with all kinds of groups. i think his recommendations will be very, very telling tomorrow. but i think there must be a
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people's movement behind that because i for one am not prepared to live in a country where we only care four weeks when 20 babies are buried because they went to school that morning. >> gentlemen, i'm going to ask you to stand by. as the reverend brings up the fact that we've already had an assault weapons ban in this country that foundation is already laid. we also have a ruling from the supreme court that came out in 2008 about what the second amendment means to you, the american people. we're going to talk more about that as we wait for the president's 37th solo press conference, the final press conference of his first administration. we're back with much more on msnbc after this. power down your little word game. i think your friends will understand. oh no, it's actually my geico app...see? ...i just uh paid my bill. did you really? from the plane? yeah, i can manage my policy, get roadside assistance, pretty much access geico 24/7. sounds a little too good to be true sir. i'll believe that when pigs fly. ok, did she seriously just say that? geico. just click away with our free mobile app.
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welcome back to msnbc. we're covering the breaking news this morning the an founsment that the president is going to hold his 37th solo press conference from the east room at the white house roughly at 11:30. this will be the final press
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conference of his first administration. he will come out to talk about the debt ceiling and take questions from reporters. i'm joined by msnbc's ed shultz and the reverend al sharpton. just want to remind everybody about the second amendment issues here with that and, the phrasing, well regulated militia being necessary for a supreme court toif a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. in '08 the supreme court upheld that ruling by saying we have a reasonable relationship to the efficiency of a well regulated militia. scalia acknowledging this pro-gun interpretation only protecting the arms that are used in a militia. ed, i get back to my point, don't we need to establish what type of guns fall into the second amendment to be sold to a free society before we decide that there needs to be legislation and gun control? it's not about taking people's guns away. shouldn't it be about establishing what kind of guns we're allowed to have?
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>> you can go down the road of manufacturing. you can't limit what kind of firearms can be manufactured in the country. i think mr. scalia is one part of the equation, but he is not the total equation. the american people, attitudes are changing on this. just like over -- as splisistic as it may seem, the attitudes over drunk driving have changed. the attitudes about gays and lesbians have changed in this country over the last 30 40rks years. society is shifting. no one is saying that you can't own but you have to have requirement to own and you've got to be checked out to own and you've got to be regulated to own just like we regulate everything else. and so i think society is moving on this and i think the president knows it, and there's no question that in the next few years of this country we're going to have more guns than people. that's a hell of a number. we're going to have more guns in this country than people? i mean, who wants that? and just because we're afraid some black helicopters are going to be over our roof and the
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government is going to be coming in? the fringe of the fringe is out making a case as to why we really should have some gun registration and gun laws in this country. so the mood of the country right now is such that if we don't move on this now, i don't know what we're going get done. and this is something that president obama really seems to want to usher? >> the catalyst of the conversation, though, seems to be based on what we witness as a country in newtown. play your michael bloomberg was on our air earlier and talking about the fact that we can use that as an example. we have a bigger problem in this country. gentlemen, take a listen. >> as horrific as sandy hook has been and all of the other seechliseechl i seemingly episodes of mass violence, we experience that carnage or worse every single day across our country because every day of the year an average of 33 americans are murdered
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with guns. here's another way to think about what that means. one week from today president obama will take the oath of office for his second term. and unless we take action, during those four years some 48,000 americans will be killed with guns. >> mayor michael bloomberg speaking from baltimore, maryland, along with governor martin o'malley there as they introduce the summit on reducing gun violence in america. when we think about the numbers in just that small frame of reference that mayor bloomberg gave there, it really is eye opening. >> it is. and i think that that is why say that the appetite in the public is not waning. look at the numbers in chicago. look at the numbers in the many cities. and you combine that with the newtown. people are literally living under siege. and i think what we have allowed is the far right to define the argument, if you accept the premise you get to the wrong conclusion.
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their premises are this is not about people's right to have a gun. is that you have no right to have magazines that can shoot 100 rounds. you have no right to have semi automatics. you have no right to a lot of the military weapons that they're talking about. and for them to use this boog boogeyman kind of strategy as ed talks about the blackhawk helicopters are coming any minute, the boogeyman is coming and the government is coming in, to fall into defending that, we need to start saying, wait a minute, we're adults now. the boogeyman is not coming. we don't need to prepare for that. we need to deal with the fact that those amount of people that mayor bloomberg are saying dying every day and we're not doing anything about it. let's have a serious sober conversation and come from under the covers because the boogeyman is not our problem. it's the man that has the automatic weapon. it's a fact that people can be on the terrorist list and go to a gun show and buy a gun today. that's the reality. rather than some fantasy that
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might be a good argument to scare people. but it's not reality. >> gentlemen, thanks for joining me this morning. the reverend al sharpton. see you on "politics nation" at 6:00 and ed shultz at 8:00. ♪ if loving you is wrong ♪ i don't wanna be right [ record scratch ] what?! it's not bad for you. it just tastes that way. [ female announcer ] honey nut cheerios cereal -- heart-healthy, whole grain oats. you can't go wrong loving it. humans. even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. at liberty mutual insurance, we understand. that's why our auto policies come with accident forgiveness if you qualify, where your rates won't go up due to your first accident,
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this thing. i save money by using fedex ground and buy my own supplies. that's a great idea. i'm going to go... we got clients in today. [ male announcer ] save on ground shipping at fedex office. welcome back, everybody. we are just minutes away now from the president's. th solo press conference that's going to come to us from the white house where we are expecting the president to lead off his remarks talking about the debt ceiling debate. i'm just getting in my ear now that this has been pushed to 11:40 so inching back by the minute. so maybe we should guess it will start around noontime but that's just a guess. i want to bring in nbc's andrea mitchell from washington, d.c. andrea, it's great for you to join me. i appreciate it. the one thing i think that's made a lot of news, not only the debt ceiling talk, the gun control debate, and where that stands. but i want to remind everybody colin powell hearing on "meet
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the press" this beekd to talk with david gregory about chuck hagel but also bringing up the gop intolerance that he has witnessed and what he feels like exists now in d.c. take a listen. >> i think the republican party right now is having an identity problem. and i'm still a republican. i think what the republican party needs to do now is take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed. the country is changing demographically. and if the republican party does not change along with the demographic, they're going to be in trouble. >> andrea, over the last 24 hours what's the reaction been in washington, d.c. to colin powell and what his thoughts are about the gop and the future? >> you know, colin powell does not do many interviews and he went on with david gregory to make the points about chuck hagel but also knowing he would be asked these questions because it's been very much on people's minds. where is the. party going? and i'm taking back to 2000 when
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i was covering the republican convention in philadelphia and colin powell gave his speech and at the time he was at the height of his popularity. he was the -- going to eventually be the next secretary of state but he was the chairman of the joint chiefs. and he spoke about affirmative action and he was boo'd from the republican delegates, speaking out in favor of affirmative action. you have to know colin powell. i've covered him for years and years when he was a deputy national security adviser in bush 41's white house and the reagan years. he has come up through the streets of new york, from the bronx. and he had experience in the south, as well, through his wife alma powell. he's, of course, the cofounder of america's promise, believes so strongly in education. so for him to talk about the republican party this way is a very big deal. and i think it's the most profound thing we've heard in a long time, that this man, this war hero, this general who
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served under three republican presidents is saying that the republican party needs to think about it, that he's voted for seven american republican presidents or presidential candidates, and that he has twice voted for barack obama and he would say the republican party is leaving him and moving to the right, not because of any other affinity with barack obama. >> one thing, too, andrea, over the weekend while colin powell was out talking about a defense of hagel for a cabinet post, senator corker was appearing elsewhere and giving a different type of interpretation. take a listen. >> i think another thing, george is going to come up is just his overall temperament. and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the pentagon. >> andrea, has senator corker's office or those around him explained what he was getting at there by the temperament phrasing? >> well, in fact, this has sort
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of lit up the e-mailing and texting around town here because the pro-hagel group, the people supporting him, former staff members, are asking, you know, what was he talking about because he did not get along well with some of his republican colleagues, he's known to have sort of sharp elbows but he's hardly the only senator who is known to be a little prickly at times. so people really don't understand is this a new -- was senator corker previewing a new line of attack against the hagel nomination where they're going to try to get to his temperament and some very subjective issues or are they going to stick to the policy questions which he is very well prepared to rebut? you know, it's very hard to defend yourself from people saying, you don't have the temperament to do something. they think this might just pass but they weren't sure whether this is a whole new line of attack against the hagel nomination where there have been democrats as well as republicans complaining about his views on
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iran, iraq, israel. he, as colin powell said, can defend himself very well and he has been talking to as many as 30 senators in advance of the hearings that he hopes are going to take place fairly quickly once the senate comes back. but that's after the inauguration. and meanwhile, the opposition could build. >> andrea, i'm going to let you go here in just a second, but do you want to give us a quick preview of what you have coming up at 1:00 on "andrea mitchell reports"? >> we're waiting as you are to hear what the president has to say because we know he wants to outline the view on the debt ceiling. i was talking to whoufs officials over the weekend and they are not going to retreat to the 14th andment or any work arounds. they are laughing off the platinum coin, as you know, as a nonstarter and federal reserve said they would not buy that asset. that means it is absolutely a nonstarter. it would not have the intended effect that son of its supporters would like. so they are putting it right back on congress, you've got to deal with this debt ceiling issue and they think they can win that argument. obviously we're going to hear questions about guns.
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we flknow that the president's people say he is committed to the assault weapons ban, magazine ban on the magazines and also to background checks, whether or not those and other issues can get through, they don't think that there's much he can do by executive action. >> andrea mitchell, see you at 1:00. thanks for joining me. >> thanks, thomas. want to take you back now to the white house. peter alexander is standing by now. now we're getting word the press conference has been pushed back to 11:40. just to give people behind the curtains look here. 11:15 and then 11:30 and now 11:40. i'm saying hi noon. >> high noon sounds good in is often the way this plays out. this morning it came as a surprise to most of the in the white house press corp. was was taking place tonight. he hadn't been given a head unthere would be a news conference with the today until just this morning. really there hasn't been an opportunity to pose question of this sort to the president in
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quite a while. jay carney's last briefing was last wednesday. the president spoke in the briefing room a pair of times as the fiscal cliff-hanger was coming through before the end of the year. i was there on the front row during those remarks. but there was no opportunity to pose questions to him, to direct questions to him. i think they feel very confidently about what his answers are going to be with the questions anticipating them right now and i think a lot of them have already been, as i noted earlier, telegraphed by jay carney t in the recent remarks that he's shared. >> peter alexander outside the white house for us. peter, we're going to ask you to stand by and get a quick break here as we wait for the president to walk out those doors you see in the background up to that podium for his 37th solo news conference. [ male announcer ] where do you turn for legal matters?
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at legalzoom, we've created a better place to handle your legal needs. maybe you have questions about incorporating a business you'd like to start. or questions about protecting your family with a will or living trust. and you'd like to find the right attorney to help guide you along, answer any questions and offer advice. with an "a" rating from the better business bureau legalzoom helps you get personalized and affordable legal protection. in most states, a legal plan attorney is available with every personalized document to answer any questions. get started at legalzoom.com today. and now you're protected. welcome back. we're still awaiting the president to come out, his 37th solo press conference there. the east room all set up. reporters on the stand by. we've been told it will begin at 11:40 with the president coming
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out to have formal remarks about the debt ceiling. first i want to bring in our political power panel, very patient panel. assistant managing editor of "time" magazine, former pennsylvania governor ed rendell and political analyst and republican strategist chip saltsman. i want to start with you. the president is going to set the tone for the week. governor, can you hear me? >> yeah. >> i was going do say, the president is basically setting the tone for the week. >> well, sure. and, of course, leading up to the inaugural, he's going to have to set out some basic themes. debt ceiling, he's going to make his statement that he's not going to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. but we've got to get to sitting down and working out a deal that's going to really address the nation's problems. we've got to do something about guns. he's got to stake out some territory in which the white house won't retreat from. >> chip, how much is this a sell of the american people? >> well, i mean, i think right
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now as kind of like the governor said, set the tone. >> forgive me for interrupting but the president is out now in the eastern room. let's take a listen. >> good morning. i thought it might make some sense to take some questions this week as my first term comes to an end. it's been a busy and productive four years, and i expect the same for the next four years. i intend to carry out the agenda that i campaigned on, agenda for new jobs, new opportunity, and new security for the middle class. now, right now our economy is growing and our businesses are creating new jobs. so we are poised for a good year if we make smart decisions and sound investments. and as long as washington politics don't get in the way of america's progress. as i said on the campaign, one component to growing our economy and broadening opportunity for the middle class is shrinking our deficits in a balanced and
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responsible way. and for nearly two years now i've been fighting for such a plan, one that would reduce our deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade, which would stalize our debt and our deficit and n. a sustainable way for the next decade. that would be enough not only to stop the growth of our debt relative to the size of our economy but it would make it manageable so it doesn't crowd out the investments we need to make in people and education and job training and science and medical research, all the things that help us grow. step by step we've made progress towards that goal. over the past two years i've signed into law $1.4 trillion in spending cuts. two weeks ago i signed into law more than $600 billion in new revenue by making sure the wealthiest americans begin to pay their fair share. when you add the money that will save an interest payments on the debt, all together that adds up
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to a total of about $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the past two years. not counting the $400 million already saved from winding down the wars in iraq and afghanistan. so we've made progress. we are moving towards our ultimate goal of getting to a $4 trillion reduction. and there will be more deficit reduction when congress decides what to do about the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that have been pushed off until next month. the fact is, though, we can't finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone. the cuts we've already made to priorities other than medicare, medicaid, social security, and defense mean that we spend on everything from education to public safety, less as a share of our economy than it has --
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than has been true for a generation. and that's not a recipe for growth. so we've got to do more both to stabilize our finances over the medium and long term but also spur more growth in the short term. i've said i'm open to making modest adjustments to programs like medicare to protect them for future generations. i've also said that we need more revenue through tax reform, by closing loopholes in our tax code for the wealthiest americans. if we combine a balanced package of savings from spending on health care and revenues from closing loopholes, we can solve the deficit issue without sacrificing our investments in things like education that are going to help us grow. turns out the american people agree with me. they listened to an entire year's debate over this issue and they made a clear decision about the approach they prefer. they don't think it's fair, for example, to ask a senior to pay
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more for his or her health care or a scientist to shut down life-saving research so that a multimillionaire investor can pay less in tax rates than a secretary. they don't think it's smart to protect endless corporate loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest americans rather than rebuild our roads and schools and invest in our worker's skills or help manufacturers bring jobs back to america. so they want us to get our books in order in a balanced way, where everybody pulls their weight, everyone does their part. that's what i want, as well. that's what i've proposed. and we can get it done but we're going to have to make sure that people are looking at this in a responsible way rather than just through the lens of politics. now, the other congressionally imposed deadline coming up is the so-called debt ceiling. something most americans hadn't even heard of before two years
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ago. so i want to be clear about this. the debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending. raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. it simply allows the country to pay for spending that congress has already committed to. these are bills that have already been racked up, and we need to pay them. so while i'm willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits, america cannot afford another debate with this congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they've already racked up. if congressional republicans refuse to pay america's bills on time, social security checks and veterans benefits will be delayed. we might not be able to pay our troops or honor our contracts with small business owners, food
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inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn't get their paychecks. investors around the world will ask if the united states of america is, in fact, a safe bet. markets could go haywire, interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money, every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire. it would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. it would slow down our growth. might tip us into recession. and ironically, would probably increase our deficit. so to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the united states of america not paying its bills, is irresponsible. it's absurd. as the speaker said two years ago, it would be, and i'm quoting, speaker boehner now, a financial disaster not only for us but for the worldwide
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economy. so we've got to pay our bills. and republicans in congress have two choices here, they can act responsibly and pay america's bills or they can act irresponsibly and put america through another economic crisis. but they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the american economy. the financial well being of the american people is not leverage to be used. the full faith and credit of the united states of america is not a bargaining chip. and they had better choose quickly because time is running short. the last time republicans in congress even flirted with this idea our aaa credit rating was down graded for the first time in our history, our businesses created the fewest jobs of any month in nearly the past three years, and, ironically, the whole fiasco actually added to the deficit.
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so it shouldn't be surprising given all this talk that america thinks washington is hurting rather than helping the country at the moment. they see their representatives consumed with partisan brinksmanship pay ourg bills while they want us to focus on the economy and creating more jobs. so let's finish this debate. let's give our businesses and the world the certainty that our economy and our reputation are still second to none. we pay our bills, we handle our business, and then we can move on because america has a lot to do. we've got to create more jobs, we've got to boost the wages of those who have work, we've got to reach for energy independence. we've got to reform our immigration system. we've got to give our children the best education possible and we've got to do everything we can to protect them from the horrors of gun violence. and let me say i'm grateful to vice president biden for his work on this issue, of gun
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violence, and for his proposals which i'm going to be reviewing today and i will address the next few days. and i intend to vigorously pursue. so, with that, i'm going to take some questions and i'm going start with julie pace of a.p. and i want to congratulate julie for this new important job. >> thank you. i wanted to ask about gun violence. today marks the one-year -- or one-month anniversary of the shooting in newtown which seemed to generate momentum for reinstating the assault weapons ban but there's been fresh opposition to that ban from the nra and harry reid has said he questions whether or not it could pass congress. given that, how hard will you push for an assault weapons ban and if one cannot pass congress what other measures would need to be included in a broad package in order to curb gun violence successfully? >> as i said, the vice president and a number of members of my cabinet went through a very
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thorough process over the last month, meeting with a lot of stakeholders in this, including the nra, listened to proposals from all quarters, and they've presented me now with a list of sensible, common sense steps that can be taken to make sure that the kinds of violence we saw in newtown doesn't happen again. i'm going to be meeting with the vice president today. i expect to have a fuller presentation later in the week to get people some specifics about what i think we need to do. my starting point is not to worry about the politics. my starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works, what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we're reducing the incidence of gun violence. and i think we can do that in a sensible way, that comports with the second amendment, and then
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members of congress, i think, are going to have to have a debate and examine their own conscience because if, in fact, and i believe this is true, everybody across party everybod lines was as deeply moved and saddened as i was by what happened in newtown. we're going to have to vote on what we think is best. we're going to have to come up with answers that set politics aside. that's what i expect congress to do. what you can count on are the things that i have said in the past, the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping the magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks that shouldn't have them. an assault weapons ban that's meaningful, that those are things i continue to believe
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makes sense. will all of them get had through this congress? i don't know. what's upper most in my mind is making sure that i'm honest with the american people and with members of congress about what i think will work. what i think is something that will make a difference and to repeat what i have said earlier. if there is a step we can take that will safe even one child from what happened in newtown, we should take that step. >> i'll present the details later in the week. chuck todd, nbc. >> as you know, senate democrats, harry reid sent you a letter begging you essentially to take -- consider some sort of executive action on this debt ceiling issue. i know you have said you're not negotiating that. your administration has ruled
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out the various ideas that have been out there, the 14th amendment that just this morning house -- one of the house democratic leaders asked you to use the 14th amendment, and even said sometimes that's what it takes. he brought up the emancipation probleming clamation. he compared the debt ceiling to that. are you considering a plan b? if not, why not? >> well, chuck, the issue here is whether or not america pays its bills. we are not a deadbeat nation. so there's a very simple solution to this. congress authorizes us to pay our bills. if the house and the senate want to give me the authority so that they don't have to take these
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tough votes, if they want to put the responsibility on me to raise the debt ceiling, i'm happy to take it. mitch mcconnell had a proposal like that last year, and i'm happy to accept it, but if they want to keep this responsibility, then they need to go ahead and get it done. there are no magic tricks here. there are no loopholes. there are no easy outs. this is a matter of congress authorizes spending. they order me to spend. they tell me you need to fund our defense department at such and such a level. you immediate to send out social security checks. you need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans. they lay all this out for me.
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they have the spending power. i am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills. separately they also have to authorize the raising of the debt ceiling in order to make sure that those bills are paid, and so what congress can't do is tell me to spend x and then say, but we're not going to give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills. i just want to repeat because i think sometimes the american people understandably aren't following all the debates here in washington. raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. all it does is say that america will pay its bills, and we are not a deadbeat nation. the consequences of us not paying our bills as i outlined in my openings statement would be disastrous. so i understand the impulse to
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try to get around this in a simple way. there's one way to get around this. there's one way to deal with it, and that is for congress to authorize me to pay for those items of spending that they have already authorized. and the notion that republicans in the house or maybe some republicans in the senate would suggest that in order for us to get our way on our spending priorities that we would risk the full faith and credit of the united states, that i think is not what the founders intended, that's not how i think most americans think our democracy should work. you know, they've got a point of view. democrats in congress have a point of view.
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they need to sit down and work out a compromise. yeah. >> and -- [ inaudible ] >> look, chuck, there are -- there's a pretty straight forward way of doing this, and that is to set -- there is a vigorous debate about how we're going to do further deficit reduction in a balanced way. keep in mind that what we've heard from some republicans in both the house and senate is that they will only increase the debt ceiling by the amount of spending cuts that they're able
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to push through, and in order to replace the automatic spending cuts, the sequester, that's $1.2 trillion, say it takes another trillion $1.2 trillion to get us through one more year, they would have to identify $2.5 trillion in cuts just to get the debt ceiling extended to next year. $2.5 trillion. they can't even -- congress has not been able to identify $1.2 trillion in cuts that they're happy with because these same republicans say they don't want to cut defense. they claim that they don't want to gut medicare or harm the vulnerable, but the truth of the matter is that you can't meet their own criteria without drastically cutting medicare or having an impact on medicaid or affecting our defense spending
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so the math just doesn't add up. now, what -- here's what would work. what would work would be for us to say we've already done close to $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and if you add the interest that we won't be paying because of less spending, and increased revenue, it adds up to about $2.5 trillion. it means we need about $1.5 trillion more. the package that i offer to speaker boehner before we -- before the new year would achieve that. we were actually fairly close in terms of arriving at that number, so if the goal is to make sure that we are being responsible about our debt and our deficit, if that's the conversation we're having, i'm happy to have that conversation, and by closing some additional

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MSNBC January 14, 2013 8:00am-9:00am PST

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